Home > EP Books, Reviews > Worshipping With Calvin by Terry L. Johnson

Worshipping With Calvin by Terry L. Johnson



“ In the ‘worship wars’ which have marked recent times, many aspects have been considered but rarely is the issue of truly Reformed worship addressed. In this pertinent work, Terry Johnson effectively fills a void- countless books have been written about Calvin, but to date there has been scant material on Calvin and biblical worship. The vital historical context is presented, and the practical ramifications for Reformed biblical worship today are explored.” (From the Back Cover of the Book)



“ Here, then, is the critical question: Are our ‘difficult times’ so unlike apostolic ‘ difficult times’ that it is impossible for us just to ‘continue’ and still be effective? Generational hubris often hampers clarity of thought. Baby Boomers in particular have always thought of themselves as so different and, truth be known, so superior to all that came before them, that change is reflexive. They, and subsequent generations, drink up innovation like mother’s milk. To tell a church just to ‘continue’ to preach, read, pray, and sing the Scriptures, sounds to them so, yesterday.” (From Chapter 9, pages 318-319)


Let me start this review by divulging some personal information. I grew up in church. The church I spent the first 20 years of my life in was self-consciously “old-fashioned”. I felt like they did not like innovation simply because it was new or in style. There was a definite structure to the services but I would not call it deliberate. It was tradition. 

For the next 7 years my wife and I bounced around to various churches looking for life and meaning in the worship services we experienced. We visited no less than 25 churches of various denominations and worship “styles”. All this time, we were slowly discovering the doctrines of  grace in our own study of the scriptures. God humbled us through circumstances to the point that we no longer sought out churches based on style or what they had to offer. We simply wanted to worship God in spirit and in truth. We found, through a friend, a church that treated scripture as the center-piece of life. They prayed scripture, they sang scripture, they preached scripture, they read scripture, and they taught scripture. We had never encountered a people so saturated with God’s Word. Needless to say, we immediately fell in love with this church and have been there for over seven years now. 

So what does that have to do with this book?

In this book, Terry Johnson argues that our churches have become weak and ineffective because we have allowed scriptural practices in the church to be replaced by pragmatical entertainment. Since the reformers sought to strip away the practices of the church in their time that were unbiblical,  Dr. Johnson transports us back to the Reformation to see how this was done. How did the church restore true worship? By going back to the Bible for its life and practice, the church, under the direction of the reformers, stripped  away all the traditions that distracted the people from truly worshiping God and restored the scriptural practices that had been lost due to neglect.

After giving us historical examples of this restoration process, the author shows us what a biblical worship service looks like. To quote his chapter headings, it is: God-centered, Bible-filled, Gospel-structured, Church-aware, and Spirit-dependent. Mr. Johnson uses scripture and quotes from various reformers to convince the reader that what he is presenting is both biblical and has been the practice of the church in revitalizing worship.

When I rate a book, I do so on a five-star system with five being the highest. If a book gets five stars, it is because it has formed my thinking in a radical way. I give this book five stars. Though I attend a church where most of these practices are in place, I found myself being more deeply convicted that these practices are biblical. One caveat I put in here is that I am Baptist. As such, I disagree with the author’s treatment of Baptism. Overall, I found this book to be very instructive and encouraging. I was especially challenged and encouraged by chapter 8 (Church Aware) and chapter 9 (Spirit Dependent). I highly recommend this book. Read it and be encouraged.  

Book Details:


  • Author: Terry L. Johnson
  • Publisher: EP Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Page Count: 433
  • ISBN#: 9780852349366
  • List Price: $23.99



About the Author:

Terry Johnson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He studied history at the University of Southern California and also studied at Trinity College, Bristol, England, and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, before earning his D. Min in 2008 from Erskine Theological Seminary.

Where to Buy:




Disclaimer: I received this book from EP Books via Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Categories: EP Books, Reviews
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  1. June 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm

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